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Bending the Spine

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: Listen by Rene Gutteridge


The quaint, close-knit community of Marlo was the ideal place to live . . . until someone started posting private conversations online for everyone to read, word for word. Now it’s neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, as careless comments and hurtful accusations turn the town upside down. Violence and paranoia escalate, and the police scramble to find the person responsible before more people get hurt—or even killed.

But what responsibility do the residents of Marlo have for the words they say when they think no one is listening?

  • Paperback, 350 pages
  • Published February 1st 2010 by Tyndale House Publishers (first published 2010)
  • ISBN 1414324332 (ISBN13: 9781414324333)


Words are powerful and we know it.  The way we choose words when we are angry, we withhold them to hurt someone—we use their power to elicit the reactions and responses we want.  Gutteridge takes this willful use of words and pushes it to its extremes.

The cast of characters are all extremes: extreme insecurity, extreme idealism, extreme mysteriousness.  She handles them all with the finesse of a world-class surgeon, tweaking minute details in thoughts and actions to to allow us as readers to experience the same emotions, thoughts, insecurities as her characters.  Bravo, Mrs. Gutteridge. 

There is so much going on, and we see through so many different eyes, that at times there was too much self-reflection, too much introspection, too many unnecessary words.  The book could have been shorter, maybe should have been.  And in this paradox lies my only complaint: I figured it out.  I knew who did it.  I didn’t know the why, but the who was sort of a dead giveaway.  And I’m not one of those people who figure things out.

I don’t usually read Christian fiction because they are hokey “let’s pray and God will save us all” books.  However, Gutteridge did such a good job at balancing the the spiritual aspects of the story and the mystery, I am considering finding more books by her.

To sum it up: Idealism meets Reality meets technology, resulting in a small town in chaos.  Interesting, not sure I’d say intriguing.

3 Stars: worth the read.

Many Adventures,

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